Get us in your inbox


The 20 rules of living in New York

Written by
Nick Leftley

Every New Yorker could use a little etiquette reminder now and again, whether they're recent transplants or born and raised locals. Below you'll find a list of tips and rules for making everyone's life here a little better, from behaving yourself on the subway to handling your pizza.

By Time Out New York contributors, edited by Nick Leftley

1. When you find a great apartment, jump on it.
We cannot stress this one enough. Looking for a new place is a difficult, discouraging endeavor, and most people see a lot of shitty places before finding their new home. But if you find that unicorn on Craigslist, or a broker shows you something rent-stabilized that just opened up, take it immediately. Don't take a few days to decide, if it's a good pad, it'll be gone in seconds, and you'll never see another like it.

2. Have a go-to bar.
It’s a huge city, and new, trendy bars open every day, but you have to have that one local hole in the wall to keep you grounded. Also, it's nice to have a place to go to cry at the bar where they know you well enough to give you a couple on the house. 

3. Look both ways when crossing a one-way street.
Not only is this generally a safe thing to do, New York cyclists can literally come at you 100mph from any direction. They can probably fall on you from the sky at that speed. Also, just always be aware of surprise bike lanes in general.

4. Master the art of packing for the day.
Going home in between work and dinner, or school and happy hour, or whatever items are on your itinerary for the day, is rarely worth it. And because all the events in your life won't take place in a small geographic area (and commuting back to Brooklyn before going on that date doesn’t make any logistical sense), you should just come prepared.

5. Carry cash.
It’s just a fact of life that most NYC food trucks and bodegas, and even many restaurants, don’t take cards. Yes, it can be a hassle, and yes, you might wind up paying an ATM fee, but just learn to anticipate it and get cash when you have the chance. There are better things to complain about. 

6. Find the best bagel shop, pizza place and bodega near both your home and work.
These things will sustain you when nothing else does. Plus, you’ll be expected to know these things when anyone visits you.

7. Know your history. 
New York is not just about the hot new thing; it’s also about the cool old thing. Scout your neighborhood for restaurants, clubs and cultural institutions that help us stay connected to the city’s storied past, you'll get much more out of the city that way.

8. Find the underdog parks.
There are so many beautiful spots in NYC outside of Central Park, and they’ll keep you sane. Bryant Park (not exactly underdog, but so pretty!), Fort Greene, Riverside Park and Fort Tryon Park to name a few. Find the one closest to you and enjoy.

9. Know which neighborhood names are real, and which you should never, ever say.
Soho, Tribeca, Dumbo—all good. But try BoCoCa, SoHa or SpaHa and WE WILL CUT YOU. 

10. Always tip your barista.
It makes up a big part of worker’s wages at a lot of New York coffee shops, and if that's not a good enough reason, if you do it regularly enough, you'll taste the difference in your beverage.

11. Master the art of jaywalking.
Part NYC performance art, part vital life skill for anyone not wanting to be late for everything, this is just something you do here. 

12. Eat all the things.
There’s really not much point in living in such a diverse culinary city if you’re not willing to at least try everything that’s presented to you.

13. Know the difference between rudeness and plain old New Yorkiness.
New Yorkers are actually incredibly friendly and have an innate desire to help—we just don’t have a hell of a lot of time. So before you lose it on someone, learn to tell the difference between a New Yorker (you ask someone for directions and they shout them at you while never slowing their pace) and a rude New Yorker (someone who saves a seat on a crowded subway with a shopping bag). And by all means, feel free to lose it on the latter. What a jerk.

14. Match the speed of the pedestrians around you.
Tourists, we love you. You are the best. But for the LOVE OF GOD, if you can’t walk as fast as the rest of us, please step aside. We’ve got places to go, people to see, important brunches to get to. New York speed ain’t easy to keep up with, so don’t feel bad if you can’t, just MOVE. 

15. Always know the cross streets.
When it comes to addresses, New Yorkers talk in streets, not building numbers. Your cab driver isn't going to know where the hell 129 West 81st is, so help the guy out and give him those bookending avenues. 

16. Be an efficient line waiter.
Do everything in your power to be prepared by the time you get to the front of a line, whether at the grocery store, coffee shop or even in the subway. Get off your phone, have your wallet out, and don’t block the turnstile while fumbling for your MetroCard. The people behind you will thank you (by not murdering you).

17. Learn New York’s bus system.
Don’t be scared of taking the bus. Sometimes, they can get you places a lot faster. And your phone works!

18. Be mindful on the subway.
Anything that needs a knife, fork or chopsticks to eat should not be consumed on the subway. The little things go a long way when riding public transport, so take off your backpack, don’t apply makeup or clip your nails, don’t flip your hair in someone’s face and, for the love of God, don’t hold the door open for your friend who has to buy a new MetroCard.

19. Remember to veer right. 
If you and another person are both walking exactly towards each other on the sidewalk, you should both veer right. Or else you’ll end up doing that awful side shuffle thing for 30 seconds, and then you’ll still end up running into each other.

20. Learn to eat and walk.
That’s just what we do here, and we’re damn good at it. If you can’t handle walking down the street while folding a pizza slice into your mouth and having a conversation about how terrible your Tinder date was last night all at the same time, you’re not going to make it here, buddy. 

Popular on Time Out

    You may also like
    You may also like